Astros’ questions in a still-active hot stove winter

Remember when fans and media talked of Astros’ moves as just shuffling chairs on the Titanic? Not anymore! Now, other teams like the Red Sox, Indians and Rangers are looking on in disbelief as the World Champion team has arguably improved in the offseason after its best season in history.

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Balancing act: To upgrade or not to upgrade (and where)?

Jon Morosi got everyone up in a tither on Wednesday when his announcement that the Astros had acquired Gerrit Cole from Pittsburgh.

Since the story hit the fan, Morosi and others have indicated that the trade indeed was close, but hit a snag in the details. Alyson Footer even wondered out loud what may have happened in those last seconds before one of the teams got cold feet.

From Alyson Footer: “I’d love to know what suddenly came up that changed things so much. When I worked for the Astros I saw deals that were signed sealed and delivered only to see it squashed with a failed medical report. Or a team backs out at last millisecond with no warning. Crazy business.”

Whether it’s Cole or perhaps Yu Darvish, whose narrowed-down list includes Houston, or someone else, the Astros appear to be serious candidates for a rotation addition. What that means for the rest of the rotation (e.g. Dallas Keuchel, Charlie Morton, Brad Peacock) remains to be seen, but a major addition could mean a shakeup.

The advancement toward a major move has Astros’ fans skiddish of the cost, especially in prized prospects, which has already taken a few hits over the past year or so. How many Whitleys or Tuckers or Fishers can the system afford to lose before the organization’s own feeder is diminished or even depleted?

Apparently, Houston was also in on Jay Bruce, considering the Fisher-to-Pittsburgh possibility may be close to happening.

Nonetheless, fans, speculators and even uninterested onlookers are also wondering if the rotation is the place for a major off-season upgrade. Yes, the bullpen has been addressed, but is the remake complete?

Left field is still a question, there are concerns about DH and backup catcher and many wonder if Ken Giles is still the answer to the long-term closer question. Who is the next Alex Bregman to manifest from the minor league system? Is Brian McCann the next Carlos Beltran, reaching his age limit?

Easy questions today:

  • What is your biggest concern facing the Astros in 2018?
  • If you have one major move left before the season starts, what/who do you add?
  • From your vantage point, why are the Astros so determined to add another quality starter? Does this portend other moves?
  • For some of the more advanced followers: How do you rate the minors? That is, how many sure-fire prospects does Houston have in the Top 30?